otto's war room banner

otto's war room banner

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Defending our class interests: Class war--What is to be done? Part 2-Black Bloc tactics

A controversial group of people, mostly anarchist, are taking part in what they call Black Bloc tactics. The Black Bloc is not an organization, but it is a coordinated effort by some people to organize in a moments notice and take part in activities that are considered confrontational. They directly defy authorities. They sometimes take part in petty vandalism. At times they have clashed with the more mainstream members of the Occupy movement as they did at Occupy Oakland last year.
Lately the Black Bloc groups have been more cooperative with other members of the Occupy movement. But I believe they have their right to confront authority and chose new and creative tactics. I may not agree with everything, such as breaking people’s car windows, but I do believe they have a right to confront this society in their own way.
For the last 20 years I have been part of the Wichita Peace and Social Justice Center. We take part in educational programs and protest marches against various military activities. Our marches vary from less than 100 to more than 1,000. At times people and groups have come from out of town. Other times we have sent people to other towns.
The bottom line is that after 20 years we have accomplished nothing. US imperialism and military adventures have gotten worse. Working through various socialist parties, labour groups and supporting local Democrats has also proven fruitless. Not only have we changed nothing, but the country keeps getting worse.
So we badly need new tactics. The Occupy movement contains anarchists, but is generic enough were others join.
The Black Bloc is often acting separate from the Occupy groups and their tactics are not always welcomed by the more mainstream Occupyers.

Last year from The Atlantic Wire;
“As Occupy Oakland's after-dark chaos overshadowed the daytime calm in headlines, many in the movement have started to fear their message is getting drowned out by those bent on little more than destruction. Until it degenerated into chaos late at night one of the defining characteristics of Wednesday's Oakland protest was the noticeable absence of uniformed police amid the peaceful march. But as a small minority of black-masked anarchists known as the Black Bloc vandalized stores and later set fires and stormed buildings, many activists on Twitter bemoaned the fact that those incidents, not the large-scale protest, would dominate headlines. And they did.
….."More tear gas in Oakland last night. Some agitators lit a barricade on fire. A few destructive people are giving #occupyoakland a bad name," tweeted activist Maddie Rudd, capturing the sentiment of many. "#OccupyOakland summary: Port shut down by thousands marching peacefully, isolated skirmishes, ~60 arrests, tear gas. What will MSM focus on?" tweeted Mother Jones magazine. ”

I question how much news publicity the moderate wing of the Occupy movement could have gotten. And there is the question of who Occupy is trying to reach out to. Much of the middle class and some of the lower working class is too comfortable to care about people they think are “hippies who don’t want to work.”

Many working and middle class people vote for Tea Party candidates because they already have a job and believe in the war against poor people, who they believe are parasites off of their own pay-checks. Maybe we need to push some of these people from their comfort zone. Many of them may feel as Congressman John Boehner that the young people who rebel against their system are just too lazy to stick it out and actually challenge them and the long held beliefs that the poor and young are just lazy parasites. They need to realize that there is a price to pay for waging a war against the poor and working poor. If these people don’t rebel, the young educated will. This is not much different from the Civil Rights movement. The blacks were never a majority. The majority of southern whites saw civil rights as a major incontinence to them. But after they realize they couldn’t stop the change they gave in. 
The Civil Rights movement took many forms. The majority followed Martin Luther King Jr. and his non violence. Some, such as the Black Panthers, did not take to the complete non-violent approach. They took up arms for protection. Likewise it is unrealistic to expect all the people who want to rebel against this system to use the same tactics.
Black Bloc tactics creates an atmosphere of “no business as usual” which forces the ruling class to have to pay attention not only to what these people are doing, but what they might do later. The African National Congress, in its fight against Apartheid, had the slogan “make the country ungovernable.” I believe we need that slogan now.
The established left is almost insignificant. Mother Jones doesn’t influence as many people as Fox News, so who cares about them. Let them and others worry about “how we look to the public.” We need new and creative methods of protest and we need to find ways to slow down and cost money to the ruling classes system and economy. If their economy can’t function right, then people will have to pay attention to us.
As for the anarchists, that seems to be a popular political strain in the US today for the revolutionary young. I was once an anarchist, so maybe some of these people will be future Marxists. Until then, we might as well support their efforts. Let them challenge the ruling class in their own way. We have nothing to lose from that.

In the next article I will look at the government’s efforts to suppress all the movements it sees as a challenge to its almighty power. It will include attempts by authorities to infiltrates groups and incite illegal activity. -សតិវ អតុ


Black Bloc

The Black Bloc has gained alot of publicity in the past two years. What people dont understand is that the Black Bloc is not an organization or a group. It is a tactic. It helps reinforce security and execute our goal in the presence of high-profile demonstrations. From Seattle WTO to the most recent action in Genoa, the Black Bloc has certainly been the main focus by the media and the police in major demonstrations. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce newer and better tactics into the struggle. Be creative. Build off the info on this site and never give up.

So What Is A Black Bloc?

The Black Bloc is a tactic that has been used in demonstrations for years. It is used as a security and safety measure. In it's essential form, each participant of a Black Bloc wears somewhat of a uniform (see the Clothing section). The idea of wearing this uniform is that if every single person in the Bloc looks relatively alike, it is hard for the police to determine which individual did what. For instance, if a Black Bloc participant throws a brick at a store window and runs into the Bloc, she will easily blend in with everyone else. However, if a person wearing normal street clothes happens to throw a brick and run into the Bloc, chances are that she will have been filmed or photographed and later caught by the police.

Also, since Anarchist presence has been a very hot issue in the past few years, law enforcement has been known to film and take photos of random activists and keep files on those individuals. This can lead to problems in the future. It's better to be safe than in jail.


The clothing worn by Black Bloc participants is very easy to acquire. You may even have these clothes in your own home. Any logos or patches must be removed one way or another to have any effect in using the Black Bloc tactic.

Black Hooded Sweatshirt-The black hooded sweatshirt offers great protection in many ways. It protects the back of the neck and sides of the head from pepper spray and other chemical agents. Police often occupy rooftops and use helicopters in order to gain overhead perspective when filming and photographing the Bloc. The hooded sweatshirt helps protect you from these perspectives by covering your head and therefore making it difficult to draw any distinctions. Again, all logos, patches, or anything else that can help the police distinguish you from anyone else should be removed or left at home.

Black Pants-Average black workers pants are fine. Black military-style cargo pants are extremely recommended. The cargo pockets can hold any items of use that you may have. Also, the ties on the side are great for de-bloc'ing (see de-bloc'ing section). All distinguishing characteristics must be removed.

Running or Tennis Shoes-A good pair of sneakers are the best investment here. Big heavy boots may be difficult to leave the scene in. However, this is just a recommendation.

Masks-One of the most important aspects of the uniform. The mask you wear should show nothing more than your eyes. We advise that you DO NOT wear a mask that will give you tunnel vision, like a cat; that is, a mask that will cut off your vision from what is beside you. There are many different kinds of recommended masks:
Ski Mask-A simple, inexpensive find at any sporting goods or army-navy store. We recommend the masks that only have holes for your eyes. However, if you can only find the kind with the three holes (two for the eyes, one for the mouth) then that will work. Just take a black piece of cloth and fill the hole.
Bandana-An average black bandana that is tied around your mouth will work too. When choosing this mask, please wear something over the top part of your head, such as a beanie or another bandana. If your hair and rest of your upper head are exposed, it is not hard to tell who you are.
Gas Mask-A slightly more expensive mask, yet a useful one if you plan on engaging in some heavy street combat. Tear gas is a widely used deterrent in street battles, and we should not be forced to turn away from our goal because of some gas. However, we feel that in most cases the ones wearing the gas masks are the ones throwing the gas cannisters back. Wearing a gas mask is an illegal practice (like we care!) and should be worn with caution.
Homemade Mask-Homemade masks are easy to construct. You can use an old black t-shirt and wrap the fabric around your face. You can also cut off the sleeves and put those around your face. Be creative!

Please go back to the main page for tactics and more information.

The Black Bloc Tactic

Anarchist black bloc clash with police at G20 Pittsburgh

No comments: